Moths of North Carolina
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69 NC Records

Megalopyge pyxidifera (Smith, 1797) - Yellow Flannel Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Zygaenoidea Family: MegalopygidaeP3 Number: 57a0036 MONA Number: 4642.00 MONA Synonym: Lagoa pyxidifera
Comments: This is one of four members of this genus in North America, two of which occur in North Carolina. This species has a long history of being placed back and forth between the genus Megalopyge and Lagoa. Becker (1995) was the last to reinstate Megalopyge.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (2005) Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Immature Stages: Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: This species is similar in size and shape to Megalopyge crispata but the wings, body, legs, and antennae are entirely pale to amber yellow with no markings. The broad forewings possess wavy hairs across the basal half that imparts a distinctive wrinkled or "woolly" appearance, although the uniformity of the coloration makes this feature less obvious than on M. crispata and M. opercularis. The males have prominent pectinate antennae that are about two-thirds as long as the forewing.
Wingspan: 30-36 mm
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: This species appears to be a generalist that feeds on the leaves of broadleaf trees and shrubs. There are typically two or more generations per year depending on the latitude. In the early instars the body is sordid white with a brownish dorsal band divided by a pale line and a broad brown lateral band. The body is covered by thin, long, fluffy white hairs. In the older instars the body is covered with shorter, dense hairs that are soft, smooth and directed backwards. The posteriormost hairs are shaped into a wispy-like tail that extends a short distance beyond the body. The coat varies from whitish gray to yellowish gray or orange and the hairs are sufficiently dense to conceal the body (Dyer, 1897). The larvae are very similar to those of Lagoa crispata and are best identified by either rearing or geographic range (Wagner, 2005). The larvae have urticating spines that can sting and cause skin irritation (Mullen and Zaspel, 2019), so be careful when handling.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable only through rearing to adulthood.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Megalopyge pyxidifera is mostly restricted to Coastal Plain habitats in the southeastern US. The range extends from southeastern North Carolina to southern Florida, and westward to southern Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana. Except for one record from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that needs to be confirmed, all North Carolina records come from the southern half of the Coastal Plain, including the Fall-line Sandhills.
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ‚Č• 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: The adults have been observed year-round in Florida and from March through September elsewhere. Populations in North Carolina are bivoltine. As of 2023, our records are from mid-April through early June, followed by a second flight from mid-July through late-August.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Except for the record from the Blue Ridge, all of our records come from Longleaf Pine habitats. The majority are from dry sandhills, although there are also some from more mesic flatwoods and savannas, usually with drier habitats located in the vicinity.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae appear to be polyphagous (Heppner, 2007; Robinson et al., 2010). The known hosts include Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) and other oaks, hackberries (Celtis), Wax-myrtle (Morella cerifera; iNaturalist); cherries (Prunus), pears (Pyrus) and blueberries (Vaccineum). - View
Observation Methods: The adults are attracted to lights.
Wikipedia
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: SR
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4G5 S2S3
State Protection: Listed as Significantly Rare by the Natural Heritage Program. That designation, however, does not confer any legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Although this species can be locally common, we have records from fewer than 20 sites in North Carolina. It appears to be a strong habitat specialist, occurring almost entirely in Longleaf Pine habitats, which have undergone an extreme reduction in range since Colonial settlement. Verification of the specimen from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has the potential to alter this picture, suggesting that pyxidifera can use a much wider range of habitats. However, more recent collecting from both the Blue Ridge and Piedmont have not produced any new records, despite the fact that this species has a fairly broad flight range in the middle of the season and appears to come quite well to blacklights.

 Photo Gallery for Megalopyge pyxidifera - Yellow Flannel Moth

Photos: 8

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2023-06-13
Scotland Co.
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Recorded by: John Petranka and Jim Petranka on 2023-05-19
Scotland Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Bo Sullivan and Steve Hall on 2021-05-10
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Bo Sullivan and Steve Hall on 2021-05-10
Scotland Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Bo Sullivan and Steve Hall on 2021-05-10
Scotland Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2016-04-28
Harnett Co.
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Recorded by: E. Corey on 2014-06-04
Cumberland Co.
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Recorded by: ASH, NEW on 2011-08-12
Moore Co.
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